Rouhani enters Iran election row over barred candidates

AFP reports: Iran’s president has criticised moves by a powerful committee to exclude thousands of candidates, mostly reformists, from next month’s parliamentary election, saying Thursday the decision could undermine the vote’s legitimacy.

Hassan Rouhani openly questioned the actions of the Guardian Council, a conservative-dominated panel that vets all prospective lawmakers, after it said Monday that 60 percent of 12,000 election hopefuls had been excluded.

Reformists, largely sidelined from Iranian politics since the disputed 2009 re-election of hardline conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, bore the brunt of the vetting, with just one percent of its hopefuls winning approval.

Speaking in Tehran, Rouhani was warmly applauded when he suggested the public would see through steps that could amount to favouritism, saying it would dent the ballot’s competitiveness.

“It is called the House of the Nation, not the house of one faction,” he told an audience of provincial governors, implying that not only conservatives should contest the election for seats in parliament.

“If there is one faction and the other is not there, they don’t need the February 26 elections, they go to the parliament,” Rouhani said, laughing but then scorning such a prospect. [Continue reading…]

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